Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Reading with Marilyn

The other day I found myself stumbling through the internet, as I am wont to do on occasion, and I came across an interesting article about the 390 titles found in Marilyn Monroe's library following her death. The article referred to it as Marilyn's reading list. And that got me thinking.

I love to read, always have. Its why I first chose and earned a degree in English.

"Why are you majoring in English," they always asked.

I'd shrug as my eyes and interest would drift to a spot just above their head.
I knew where this was going.

"I like to read."

"So, you want to be a teacher?"

This is an irrelevant but inevitable question that plagues me still to this day.


Then, it was their turn to shrug.

Look, I get it. I got it about 3/4 of the way through college. English degrees usually result in one of two occupations: teacher or lawyer, which are wonderful professions--just not for me. Or, in something else entirely: unemployment. Or, better yet: more school.

That's why I decided to take on Historic Preservation my Junior year. Best decision of my life.

Anyways. Back to Marilyn.

So, I ran across this list and immediately thought that I should make Marilyn's library my library, because, why not? I am currently getting my reading-fix by scouring Twitter for interesting articles posted by the likes of: The Washington Post, The New Yorker, NY Mag, Vogue, NY Times, various blogs and newsie publications, etc.

Its getting exhausting and is rather unfulfilling.

Why don't I just pick up a book?

I don't know. I have a hard time branching out. I don't keep up with current authors, and I usually stray away from best sellers. I'm not a rebel or anything. Just stubborn. I don't like to be told what to do, or read, in this case. I also have a bad habit of re-reading old favorites. I recently re-read Harry Potter. It was awesome.

I also have a great appreciation for 100+ year old literature. Although, admittedly, I tend to dislike most American writers besides Hawthorne and Alcott. I don't have any positive feelings for Twain, except nap time. I know. I hate me, too.

So, here is the complete list of titles from Marilyn's library. It also includes an additional 46 titles that were not in the library but that Marilyn was known to have read or owned.

I printed the list out for ease of reviewing--13 pages, total!

I decided that 436 was a bit overwhelming, so I have decided to take on 20 titles to read in the next year (or so). So, how to narrow down a list of 436 into 20.

I was very analytical and scientific in how I went about it. Natch.

B's Very Thorough Book Selection Process:

Step 1 - choose one title from each of the 13 pages

Step 2 - choose 7 remaining titles at will

Brilliant, I know. A lot of the works are from the early to mid 20th century, which means that I have read none of them and actually have heard of very few of them. This should be interesting. Blindly choosing titles based on, well, the title.

Here goes (in no particular order):

1. To the One I Love Best by Ludwig Bemelmans
2. Marilyn Monroe by George Carpozi
3. From Russia with Love by Ian Fleming
4. Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
5. Close to Colette by Maurice Goudeket
6. Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust
7. The Mermaids by Boros
8. The un-Americans by Alvah Bessie
9. The Dubliners by James Joyce
10. The Wall Between by Anne Braden
11. The Miracles of Your Mind by Joseph Murphy
12. The House of the Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky
13. A Time in Rome by Elizabeth Bowen
14. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers
15. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
16. Dr. Newman, M.D. by Leo Rosten (Marilyn was said to be reading this book the week of her death.)
17. A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
18. Focus by Arthur Miller
19. The Rain's Came by Louis Broomfeld
20. The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone by Tennessee Williams

Now, for The Reading with Marilyn Title Awards (just for fun).

Most Intriguing goes to The Ballad of the Sad Cafe
Most Dramatic goes to The un-Americans
Most Loveable goes to To the One I Love Best
Most Optimistic goes to The Miracles of Your Mind
Most Pessimistic goes to The Wall Between

As I come to the end of this post, I realize that something that started out as a reason to read has turned into books to read because Marilyn chose them. And now, I'm intrigued to know more about Marilyn. I feel like that is the only way to understand her library. So, tomorrow, I will be going to the library to pick up a biography on her, Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates, to properly kick-off this reading escapade.

I don't know exactly how to handle updates on this little project. I think no more than 1 post a week but no less than 2 posts a month. There. Parameters. I like it. We will figure it out as we go.

I guess I need to go get my library card!

Have you read any of these books? Want to read with Marilyn, also? Let us know what your list is and keep us updated!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Facebook Dilemma

Oh social networking...

This may sound odd, but I've been having a serious debate (within my own thoughts) of kicking Facebook to the curb.  Here's a few examples why:

Phrases such as:  "Said no one EVER!" 

Words like "Son", "Cray Cray", and "Boom!"

The never ending theme of Zombies.

And those dang ecards!  WHEN DO THEY STOP?!

I realize that the previous issues could just be me being nit-picky.. so I'll give a few, more concrete, examples of some photos that have blown my mind here lately.

Note:  The following are actual posts I have recently viewed on my timeline.  I decided to save them for documentation purposes such as these:

I don't know where to begin with this one.  


And what is one supposed to do with something like this?  

I had to Google "Satanas" to find out it means "Satan" in Spanish.  I am embarrassed I put that much time into such a ridiculous post, but I almost hated on them for spelling "Satan" wrong.

There are also the few people who realize how annoying all of the crazy posts are, but still somehow manage to post not so cleaver pictures like this... (which is equally frustrating)

There are also those glorious post (and once again these are actual posts from my timeline) like:

"Going to Walmart. Gotta get some stuff."

"I don't care who you voted for, but if you voted for (presidential candidate) I will straight ghetto stomp your ass."

Which may just reflect a flaw in my Facebook friending ability.

The dilemma:

The one justification I do have for keeping a Facebook account is that it allows me to keep in touch with my close friends and family from home.  I will admit Facebook has it's perks. 

 ie: Being one click away from a familiar face, laughing at the ridiculous rants, and keeping up with everyone's gym activity

But overall, it's a bit like an annoying soap opera.

Normally, this would be a no brainer... like canceling my MySpace account when the names turned into &hearts***1hotTEEwithAbodTEE***&hearts, but I don't really have a rebound network.  Not many of my family and friends use twitter, and you can't keep up with someone through Pinterest and Instagram alone. 

Facebook, I wish I knew how to quit you!

- Cap

Monday, March 25, 2013

Liebster Award Nomination

So, we were nominated for a Liebster Award by Sarah over at Married to Med School.

Here goes.

11 Random Facts about B:

1. I take every piece of jewelry off as soon as I walk into my house.
2. As a child, my favorite sandwich was a grilled cheese with mustard.
3. I do not like ham and barely tolerate bacon.
4. My makeup routine consists of face lotion, chapstick and mascara.
5. I don't believe in ghosts.
6. I love reality tv.
7. Smacking is my biggest pet peeve.
8. I cannot cook an egg.
9. I do not bake.
10. I hate airplanes.
11. Everything to do with children loosing teeth makes me want to hurl.

Sarah's 11 Questions for Me:

1. What is your favorite category on Pinterest?
Food and Drink followed by Hair and Beauty (I desperately need some hair help)

2. Who is your favorite Disney princess?

3. What's the best book you've read recently (or not so recently)?
At Home by Bill Bryson

4. Are you more Pottery Barn or West Elm?
Neither. Antiques and fleas all the way.

5. Do you prefer cold weather or hot weather?
HOT. Go away, snow.

6. What is your favorite tv show?
Mmmm... too many. New Girl ties with Project Runway.

7. Audrey or Marilyn?
Audrey's style on Marilyn's body.

8. Were you in a sorority? Why or why not?
No. I was never interested.

9. If you could instantly learn any language what would it be?

10. Why did you start blogging?
Boredom and to document life so far from family and friends

11. What food could you eat every day if you could?


11 random facts about Cap:

1. Morning time is my favorite part of the day.
2. If the Antropologie owners would allow, I would live happily and contently in one of their stores for the rest of my life. 
3. SoHo is my favorite area in NYC.
4. Houses with red doors make me smile.
5. I dream of opening a restaurant called Southern Wild.
6. I hate chocolate candy bars.
7. My grandmother has better dance moves than I do.
8. La Jolla, CA is my favorite city.
9. New Orleans is a close second.
10. Before becoming a pet owner, I never understood pet people.  I thought they were all crazy.  I realize now that they are all crazy, and I am at the top of the leader boards.  
11. I sing in my car, and pray no one can hear me.

Sarah's 11 Questions for Me:

1. What is your favorite category on Pinterest?
Home Decor.  I like to imagine myself making coffee in one of those gorgeous kitchens!

2. Who is your favorite Disney princess?
Belle, I once cried for two solid days until my mother agreed to let me dress as her for halloween.  It was the best tantrum I've ever thrown.

3. What's the best book you've read recently (or not so recently)?
Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

4. Are you more Pottery Barn or West Elm?
Currently I'm more Targ├ęt, but in the future I hope to be a Pottery Barn snob.

5. Do you prefer cold weather or hot weather?
Can I pick Fall?  It's the perfect balance.

6. What is your favorite tv show?
The World of Jenks and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (don't hate).

7. Audrey or Marilyn?

8. Were you in a sorority? Why or why not?
Negative.  I didn't see the appeal, and I don't do pearls.

9. If you could instantly learn any language what would it be?
I have to agree with Bri; I would learn French.

10. Why did you start blogging?
To share my attempts at surviving WV life with friends and family.

11. What food could you eat every day if you could?
French fries and chocolate milkshakes...  Together.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Home Sweet Home

W and I headed south last Friday to visit our families. Lately, going home has been tough--in that, it takes a lot of effort to force ourselves back in the car, back on the interstate, and back to WV.

We were home a total of 9 days over Christmas. Nine. Days. Home. You can imagine the grumpiest ride home ever and you would be spot on. Sure, its wonderful to get back to your own space and fur-babies. If only that space and those babies were located about six hours southeast.

Maybe, I whine on here too often about being homesick? I'm not sorry if I do, because it is a very accurate representation of my emotional state every day. I've gotten used to the homesick pangs. The ache has lessened in severity but its always there.

Anyways, before I get all sappy and depressed, here are some highlights from our visit home:

A gorgeous sunset greeted us as we drove into my hometown.
W got a gun. Yep. And, he is the only one excited about it.
Indulged in some delicious Cold Stone Creamery. My fave is coffee with heath bar. Yum
We kept our distance from Tux, aka Killer, aka The Terrorist, because he likes the taste of human.
I went for a run at my grandfather's farm on an old logging trail. Can't beat SC swamps and cypresses.
We reveled in those flat-as-boards SC fields after all this mountain-living. 
Got to love, squeeze, kiss, hug, soak-up, stare-in-wonder-and-awe at our beautiful nephews.

And so, I leave you, dear reader, with a little John Denver a la 4 year old. You're welcome.

Will you be leaving on a jet plane this weekend? Whether you will be or not, I hope you have a fabulous weekend. W and I will be staying warm and cozy in this relentless cold. We plan to (finally) watch Argo, eat carnitas on Saturday night and homemade chicken tikka masala on Sunday. YUM. 

What are your plans?


Thursday, March 21, 2013

March Madness

Seriously, I'm pissed.

Its 20°.

The first day of spring was yesterday.

I reiterate my thoughts hundredfold on yesterday, which was also miserably cold--although not 20°.

And, cue the flurries!

On another note. Did you all watch Rachel Zoe last night? I love her.


I think she is an amazing and talented business woman as well as a wonderful mother. Haters gon' hate, but I think she is a wonderful role model.

Except for her emaciated arms. I do think she could eat more.

But other than that: perfection.

Did you know that Cap and I are running a 10k next month? Um, yeah. That is going to be interesting. The race is part of the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival. Sooooo, the chocolate kind of makes up for the whole I-have-to-run-6.2-miles-thing, but only kind of.

Want to run along with us? I, after, ahem, a 3 week hiatus (I am bad about taking these...obviously) from running, I ran 3.14 last night. I am not telling you my time. That is between me, God, and the treadmill. I plan to run 3.5 tomorrow. 

What about you? Do you have any fitness plans? Are you running in a race soon?


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

When I Grow Up

I get asked a lot:

you could do this for the rest of your life, right?
"no, absolutely not!"
if w wasn't in med school and you all didn't have to move, you could see yourself in this position for 10+ years, couldn't you?
 "no, no, no, no"

bri, what is your dream job? 
"have a seat"

WV sunset from our little porch.

Let's start at the present with my current job. I run a very small house museum. And by small, I mean that I am the only full-time employee--in fact, the first full-time employee... ever.

I fully recognize how incredibly lucky I am to even have a job at this tough time--especially one that sort of fits in with my BA in Historic Preservation. I honestly had zero interest in museums prior to my internship-turned-contract-project-assistant-position at Historic Columbia Foundation back in 2009. If I am being perfectly honest with you, I really don't enjoy visiting most museums. My museum, however, is of the variety that I rather enjoy. Its a historic house museum that was first built in 1834. Its interpretation is as a house in western Virginia, occupied by a middle to upper class family during the 1830s and 1840s, which means it is furnished as such (with some truly impressive antiques in fact).

I am honored to work for such an establishment, but that does not mean that it is my dream job.

You see, the "house" part of my job is really the only thing to which my education relates. Ideally, after graduation, I would have tried to get a job with a Historic Preservation consultant, a State Historic Preservation Office or an architect specializing in historically-minded projects. I did not want to continue my education. I was way too antsy to get out into the workforce--a choice I still support. I think I was on the proper course with my position at HCF, but med school changed my circumstances drastically and I suddenly found myself living in a very small town in WV happily taking on the Executive Director position at the county historical society that owned and operated a house museum. I like to say that museums chose me. And in a town of maybe 3,500, the fact that I found any job, let alone one somewhat related to my field is a MIRACLE.

Back to the questions above. They are mostly asked by my very thoughtful and very supportive board members, who would like for me to stick around for the next decade or so. They ask me these questions often as if they can sense my restlessness and doubt. Am I happy? Yes. My life is wonderful. Am I fulfilled? Professionally? I'm not sure.

My answers above are definitely not the ones that I voice. But being the honest person that I am, for better or worse, I tell them gently that if my circumstances were different (ie: I didn't have a husband in med school in WV), I probably would not be running a house museum--or any museum for that matter. I probably would not be in the non-profit sector either. I can honestly say that "breaking even," "we don't have the money to fix that gigantic hole that could potentially ruin everything we stand for," and "in the red" are phrases that are voiced entirely too often in the non-profit world, and it makes me crazy. Admittedly, I write grants on the side for non-profits but not because I necessarily like it. I just seem to have a knack for it. But, I think the non-profit ideology of "breaking even" is completely out-dated and irresponsible. Off my soap box. I was also recently asked by another local museum to escort some early wedding dresses and Lincoln campaign posters to DC for conservation. Um, conservation consultant is definitely a job I can see myself doing. Ironically, its all about museums and dealing with things that I have only recently learned by trial by fire--but a free trip to DC? Sure! (And, I'm taking Cap! Girl's weekend in DC, baby! Stay tuned.)

Sunset in my hometown taken this weekend on our trip south. Post to follow.

So, what is my dream job you ask? Well, it really is more of a dream than anything else. I feel completely naive and nervous about putting this on the interweb, but here goes.

I would love to be a buyer/stylist specializing in historic preservation ventures and focusing mostly on interiors.

I know. Its a job that doesn't really exist--at least, not in those exact words that I have been able to find. Until this morning.

I was perusing Apartment Therapy--one of my favorite design blogs--and ran across this house tour. It is a gorgeous house in London, so take a look and enjoy. Anyways, one of the things about these house tours (I also love Design*Sponge's Sneak Peaks--highlight of my Monday) that I like nearly as much as seeing these incredible spaces is seeing the people behind the beautiful designs. The owner of the house, Katharine, pretty much has my exact dream job. Its one of the first times I have actually seen spelled out exactly what I would like to do for, well, ever. The only thing about it is that Katharine has the education, experience, connections, etc. that has allowed her to be successful in such a position. I have none of these things--but I've got dreams, baby!

And so, until the skies open and the sun pours down in radiant shafts on me as the angels sing their choruses, revealing the perfect path to my forever job, I will stick to what I know, which unbelievably is now.... museums!

What's your dream job?


Monday, March 18, 2013

Dinner Planning is Not Just for 1950s Housewives


To be perfectly honest with you, the stereotypical image of the 1950s housewife (see above), domestic goddess, etc. makes me cringe to my very depths. I don't get it. At all. Yes, I know, it was another time and another place, but I still don't get it. Maybe, I just don't want to get it.

Anyways, while I would never consider myself a housewife and doubt I would ever strive to be such, I do partake in many habits that I think would make the housewifiest of the housewives smile in domestic bliss.

I have started planning out our weekly meals to make grocery shopping a little more, er, successful. I hate coming home, starving and brain-dead, with an idea for dinner firmly in place only to find I have about 3 of the needed 20 ingredients. Nothing starts the night off worse than having to scramble to the store at grocery-rush-hour to dodge carts and children with nothing better to do than camp out in the cramped aisles and then wait 10 minutes in the speedy checkout line behind the person with more than the suggested 15 item limit and coupons to boot!

I have decided that meal planning is, alas, the only way to go.

Also, I am now gluten-free. I know, out of the blue, right? Well, when you find yourself curled up in the fetal position with only one pantleg on because that's as far as you got, and you're clutching your throbbing stomach and wishing for a an entire gastrointestinal transplant, while texting your boss that you are going to be late for work because of--what, severe stomach cramps (?!?)--you are suddenly ready for drastic, life-changing decisions.

Gluten free is a major life-change for me.

Bread and pasta and I go way back. And, its deep.

So, in that moment, I decided that I just couldn't live with writhing and unpredictable insides. I had actually been considering taking the leap since Christmas and this episode was just the straw that broke, well, my gut.

Its been 5 days, and I feel incredible. TMI to follow: I no longer have cramping and bloating following meals. And, after day one of no gluten, I dropped 2.2 lbs. like snap-your-fingers fast--2.2 lbs. GONE. W says that doesn't mean anything, but I think that it was my body quietly whispering thanks for ending the gluten torture.

Anyways, a gluten-free diet paired with my busy schedule has led to meal planning, and I don't plan on going back to my haphazard, disorganized ways.

Below is my menu for Monday through Sunday with links included. I sit down Sunday night or Monday morning and plan out the entire week's menu, making my shopping list of ingredients that I don't have on hand. I will freeze meat that I plan to use at the end of the week and set it out to thaw the morning I plan to use it. If we have a lot of leftovers from a meal, we will have it again for dinner a few nights later. Then, I will have a dinner already planned for the next week! W and I also like leftovers for lunch, so I usually do not cut the recipes in half.

Here goes:

Monday night:
lentil soup recipe
cornbread recipe

Tuesday night:
slow cooker sweet and spicy chicken recipe
with rice and sauteed spinach

Wednesday night:
pork cutlets with parm and lemon recipe
with mashed sweet potatoes and asparagus

Thursday night:
salmon patties with creamy dill sauce (recipe from mom below)
(gluten-free note: use leftover cornbread from Monday night for breadcrumbs)
crunchy potatoes
sauteed zucchini and onions

Friday night:
crockpot carnitas

Saturday night:
smoked sausage
mashed potatoes
sauteed cabbage

Sunday night:
chicken tikka masala
(chef's note: limit cornstarch to 1 1/2 tablespoons or it is really, really thick)
with rice and broccoli

I used Martha Stewart's website for recipes as well as Pinterest.

**Mom's Salmon Patty with Dill Sauce Recipe

Salmon Patties
fresh parsley
1 can of salmon
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
bread crumbs or panko (gluten-free: cornbread)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Saute onion and celery. Mix salmon, egg, mustard together. Add celery, ionions, breadcrumbs and pepper and mix. Shape into patties, 2 1/2 in. thick. Brown in skillet and EVOO. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place browned patties on sheet and back for 15-20 mins.

Creamy Dill Sauce
Mix together the following ingredients:
1/4 cup of mayo
1/4 cup of yogurt
2 scallions, sliced
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
ground pepper

Do you meal plan?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

B's Wish List

Let's just forget my 4 month absence? K? You're the best, dear reader!

I would like to start off right where we left off, but maybe focus on the things that distract me best during these long and lonely med school days.

Here are the things for which I am forever on the lookout. And these things are serious, okay? I mean, like, slam-on-the-brakes-as-you-drive-past-the-most-perfect-bar-cart-dumped-on-the-curb-serious.

Case in point:



Aren't those just the sexiest? I have a slight obsession with finding the most perfect bar cart. And what makes this story so sad, dear reader, is that I had the opportunity to purchase one of these bar carts--although not as stunning as the above--that with much tender loving would have found the perfect place in our home. But, I hesitated. On a $30 bar cart that I had been searching and searching for. I hesitated!!! It was most similar to this one:

I know: I am an idiot.

Moving on.

I am also always searching and searching and searching for the most perfect toast rack. You know, the Brits use them! You should never stack your toast as that leads to condensation and soggy toast. Duh. I don't eat very much toast, so I would just like several toast racks to use as: a napkin holder, mail sorter, paper sorter for the Med Student, picture holder, etc.

Exhibit A, B,& C:



Aren't those delicious? I have had a few opportunities to purchase one of these. In fact, every time we go to Lewisburg to visit Cap and J, I swoon over one similar to the first one. And, its only $24. Why don't I just commit? I'm not sure, but I like to go with my gut. And, my gut says, WAIT. So, wait and keep a hawk's eye lookout I do.

(See, my gut told me to buy the bar cart. I didn't. I went back a few days later. GONE. That's what I get for not listening to my gut. Damn it.)

My other lookout item is another sad story. This post is sort of depressing me now, but I will soldier on.

VINTAGE LOAFERS. Oh em gee. I do love me some loafers. I mean, I have them in brown leather, leopard, and pastel ikat.

A few years ago, I purchased some deeply discounted Tory Burch loafers:

Here they are.

Cute, right? Yeah, but CRAPPILY made. I mean, the worst. There are now a few holes in the soles and the insoles started to come out on day one of wearing them only after about 30 minutes of walking in them. And, they hurt. I mean, they HURT. I've never been able to break them in. And I wear them a lot. And, I get lots of compliments on them. But, bottom line: they are crappy shoes.

When W and I were in NY visiting Margaret and Danny last year, I was perusing the pop-up vintage stores in Chelsea Market and found the most perfectly broken in and beautiful Cole Haans. These shoes were perfect. I was ready to buy them right then as I had been wearing my Tories and my feet were hurting and blistered. The Haans felt like a warm embrace on my tender feet. I went all over that store searching for the owner of that booth. Nowhere to be found. Nor was there a price on the shoe, or I would have just taken them and left cash. W and I decided to come back the next day as Margaret and Danny's cute place was only a block away (I know. I secretly hate them, too, for being super cool NYers). W and I came back the next morning, and they were GONE. Can you believe my luck? GONE. I'm still heartbroken, so I have commenced an Ebay search for my loafer soulmate. I know you are out there somewhere!

If these were 7.5, I'd get them immediately.

And for my final lookout item, I will introduce you to the fascinating world of vintage glasses. Coming in all colors, patterns and styles, the perfect set await my purchase! W and I have had some awesome luck these past couple of months in breaking nearly every single drinking glass we own, which is sad because they were a gift (6 to begin with) from some of W's hospital co-workers back in SC. They were even etched with a palmetto tree to remind us of home. Sad. Now, we are down to three! Not to be disheartened! This is an excellent opportunity to invest in some adorable vintage glasses. My mom already got us started with our vintage bamboo tumblers:

Adorable, right?

So, now, I am tempted to purchase these from Etsy. What do you think?


Coral is kind of my color. $34 for shipping and everything. Should I go for it or scour the flea market and local shops?

I will keep you posted on my search!

What are your lookout items?